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advise needed: paying rent in a collapsing economy

i could really use some advice from all of the portland activists who have had luck doing the things they love and changing the world while still managing to pay rent: how do you do it?
I'm a recent graduate who grew up in P-town and I've come back to the dismal economic climate: that would be fine with me- capitalism is institutionalize violence- but it is a major game in our lives and the act of spending less then you make brings you a savings that you can redirect to good things.

But in the current situation, I'm having trouble even covering rent.

I am sure that there are many like me that want to be giving their energy to the Revolution, but are struggle event to keep a house. DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY ADVICE?

cohousing 05.Jan.2004 13:54


Apart from the obvious solution of cramming way too many poor people into one apartment or house, I'm at a loss. The upside is reduced expenses. The downside is never having any privacy and living with a nasty kitchen and bathroom. It can be thereputic, however. Learning to live in a rapidly overpopulating world with dwindling resources is what we all must do. Roommates will hopefully have more of the skills necessary to live after the shit hits the fan.

Cheap rent, no car 05.Jan.2004 14:32

George Bender

Well I left Portland after my living situation went sour, and moved to Eugene. I live in a quint -- five apartments share a kitchen -- for $300 a month which includes utilities. I couldn't find a deal like that in Portland, although maybe I just didn't have enough time to find it. Another option is to share a house with others. That's what I did in Portland. It cost me $374 a month which included utilities. I'm looking into subsidized low-income housing, but I hear the wait in Eugene is about a year and a half. Still it's a good idea to check it out and get in line.

I haven't owned a car for several years. Decided it just didn't make sense on my income. I could have a car or savings, and savings are more important. Without them you're just screwed if you lose your job. Unemployment isn't enough to survive on and doesn't last long enough. Cars are too financially unpredictable, especially if all you can afford is an old one. Just a constant worry. I would take my truck to the shop because it was running rough and they would say, "That will be $400 to replace the carburetor." I would say, "I don't think so." I didn't have $400. Since then I get around by bus and walking, which is good for my health because it guarantees a certain amount of exercise. If you can possibly life without it, get rid of your car. Or try not using it for awhile to see if you can get along without it. Helps if you live close to a supermarket.

Get food stamps if you qualify. They use a debit card now, so it's not so embarrassing. This also gets you a reduction on your phone bill.

I am retired and live on $574 a month Social Security plus $97 in food stamps. I depend on the Oregon Health Plan for medical insurance (until I'm 65 and can get Medicare), which is a worry, because if Measure 30 goes down I won't have OHP any more. But if you're young you may find it worth it, in terms of doing what you want to do, to live without medical insurance for a while. It's a risk, but the odds are in your favor if you're healthy. I didn't have any serious medical problems until age 57.

I recommend the book "Your Money or Your Life" by Joe Dominguez & Vicki Robin. I didn't make enough money, before I retired, to try their investment ideas, but I found their system for reducing expenses very helpful. The key is to carry a little notebook in your pocket and write down everything you spend. This helps you become more aware of where your money goes, so you can decide where you really want it to go. I found that some of my spending was wasted on stuff that didn't really help me.

It also helps to stay out of stores as much as possible, and to find noncommercial pleasures such as conversation, walking, library books and working less. Also helps to hang out with other people who are trying to be frugal and don't think that's a dirty word. Avoid romances with women whose main hobby is going to restaurants.

alternatives 05.Jan.2004 16:37


As a way to save money (especially on food) you could take up the act of dumpster diving. It sounds gross and not worth it, but there are great food resources that are regarded as trash by food stores. Portland Indymedia has some great resources about dumpster diving, including: Videos From the Resistance, which has two videos about dumpster diving, one specifically related to food; also on PDX IMC radio is the show Trash Talk which gives hints and tips about dumpster diving in Portland...that airs on Thursdays on Thursday evening...and there is a great archive of past shows on this site.

Also, there are Food Not Bombs groups that operate six days out of the week, handing out hot food downtown (at O'Bryant Sq. Tue-Sun 530pm) and take home food, like fruits and vegetables, juices, sometimes pastas and tofu.

start organizing for Kucinich! 05.Jan.2004 16:58

Dennis Kucinich

If you organize for Kucinich now, when he gets in office, his full employment economy will hook you up. The best way to get these issues addressed is to vote and work for someone that is getting the issues out there.

Kucinich is the only one in favor of reducing the military Budget to take care of better social service, education, health care, environment, etc. . .

Here is Kucinich's view on housing.

Decent housing, free of discrimination, is a fundamental human right and a basic right of citizenship. In recent years, the cost of housing has risen while incomes for working Americans have stagnated. The result has been an affordable housing crisis that must be urgently addressed by federal, state, and local governments.

The first step towards housing security is passage of the National Housing Trust Fund Act, which Congressman Dennis Kucinich has cosponsored. The goal of this plan is the creation of 1.5 million new housing units over the next decade, especially for low-income renters and owners, using the profits generated by the Federal Housing Administration and other federal housing agencies. These funds would be used for the production of new housing, preservation of existing federally assisted housing, and rehabilitation of existing private-market affordable housing. New housing units would be primarily rental units, and the focus would be on low-income households in mixed-income neighborhoods. The widely heralded success of state and local housing trust funds shows this to be a proven method of addressing the affordable housing crisis while stimulating the economy.

The work of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been critical in promoting affordable housing and community development. However, Congress has failed to fund the department's work. HUD's overall budget has been cut by 63 percent in the last 25 years. Under budget proposals currently being considered in Congress, up to 100,000 households stand to lose Section 8 vouchers, which provide a lifeline to low-income families at risk of homelessness. Kucinich favors restoring the HUD budget to its 1978 level and fully funding all existing Section 8 vouchers. He also supports additional funding for new incremental vouchers.

The housing affordability crisis is a truly national problem -- it is not limited to the cities. That is why Kucinich supports restoring funds recently cut from the Agriculture Department's Section 515 Rural Rental Housing program, which reaches tenants with incomes at less than 50 percent of the local median. Funding for this critical program, which reached $540 million in 1994, has been virtually eliminated. Unconscionably, President Bush's recent budget request called for less than one-seventh that amount. The result has been hardship for working families in America's heartland. Kucinich also supports the Rural Rental Housing Assistance Act, which would create a new $250 million fund to acquire, rehabilitate, or construct rural rental housing for low-income people, with priority for very low-income households.

Kucinich believes that the United States should also support the right to housing through international cooperation. At the UN Commission on Human Rights, the Bush administration has actively opposed recognizing housing as a human right. It has also refused to ratify the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which both include the right to adequate housing. As president, Kucinich will reverse those policies, promoting adequate housing both at home and abroad.

503 232-8201
1420 SE 37th (off hawthorne)

Food 05.Jan.2004 18:23


When I first came here I was spending about $300 a month on groceries. I liked going to People's Coop, but it seemed way too expensive compared to the regular market. Then I started just buying only bulk items and local fruits and veggies at People's, and teaching myself to actually cook stuff that didn't come in a box, jar, or can. Pretty soon I realized just how much money you waste buying prepackaged crap at supermarkets. I've cut my grocery costs down to about $100 or less per month, and could go cheaper if need be by dumpstering. It's pretty cool to be able to save money, learn a skill, eat healthier and yummier, and buy local and organic food from anti-capitalists all at the same time. It's a bit of a transition and I'm still working on it, but it's a very worthwhile change.

subsidized housing 05.Jan.2004 20:14

marc mbatko@lycos.com

The Housing Authority of Portland, 2nd and Ash, offers subsidized housing if you are poor and can wait on the list. Sometimes the wait is only a few months. When your income is zero, your rent is zero.
The state has a social character and can't be only a power and security state. According to democratic theory, the state ought to protect freedom of conscience and help the victims of market radicalism or market fundamentalism.
Work cannot define us since we are more than we do or achieve. Better is a little with dignity than a one-dimensional life according to the economic laws/myths, a one-dimensional life without vision, spirit, sharing and exchanging roles.


buy a house 05.Jan.2004 20:22

clabber grrl

I am sure that there are many like me that want to be giving their energy to the Revolution, but are struggle event to keep a house. DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY ADVICE?
Yeah, buy a house. If you are not owning the place you live in, or working towards that condition, you're a fool. I bought a house 12 years ago and my current monthly payments are under $400/month for an 1800 sq foot 4 bedroom house. Just a few blocks from the Clinton St theater, Aladdin Theater, etc.

The "Revolution", whatever that is, is not going to happen in your lifetime. The appreciation of real estate is.

Rent out your house's bedrooms and move into the basement 05.Jan.2004 21:58


Once upon a time I had a high paying job. During that time I purchased a nice four bedroom house in downtown Vancouver just off Main Street. Then I lost my job. Facing the prospect of running out of money and losing my house to foreclosure, I sold or donated most of the stuff I'd accumulated in those four bedrooms, with the exception of my bedroom furniture. Using bookcases and paint, I turned the back of my basement into a makeshift bedroom and moved my bedroom furniture into it. Then, with all four bedrooms empty, I rented each of them out. Three of the rooms rent for $325 and a small room rents for $250. This brings in each month $1,225 which I apply toward my $1,400 mortgage. So, for less than two hundred bucks a month (plus one fifth of the utilities I had to pay when living by myself) I've found a way to keep my house. Since then, I've found a job, but the pay is low and I still need the income from the roommates. I find that living with others actually keeps me more balanced, and, combined with minimizing my driving or carpooling when I don't take the bus, I manage to make ends meet.

The downside to being a live-in landlord is that people sometimes don't pay their rent. I've had that happen to me several times in the past year and a half I've been living like this. I've also been stolen from once. My advice to those who own houses who can enact this scenario: collect deposits, have a written contract, and be familiar with your state's landlord/tenant laws. If you allow pets (I and a couple of my roommates own cats) be very clear about what is and is not allowed, damage incurred by pets, etc. It's work to live like this, and none of us who live here are rich, but we do enjoy living in our home (and yes, roommates can and do clean the kitchen, bathroom, etc.)

hUH? 05.Jan.2004 22:11

By Jimminy

I bought my house almost 11 years now and my payments are around $400 too, but its only 700 sq feet , 1 bedroom so I dont know if I can believe you. You mustve gotten a REAL fixer upper! How much you spent on fixing up in that time?
Some other points. If getting a pet get either a cat or small dog(s) as the food and vet bills will save you thousands over your standard ubiquitous big dog.
If doing photography which is a cheap rewarding hobby for hikers outdoor recreationals etc get a digital camera with at least the option of 3 mega pixels. But use the lower resolution for everyday snapshots as they are easier to email and use alot less megs on your camera. When you think you have a priewinner photo move it up to full megs. Digital cams use an unbelievable battery power so buy rechargeable Ni MH batteries. Regular alkalines last for about 5 shots. Using a digital camera can save you unbelievable anmounts of money over a film camera because you take all the pix you want and just download the pix to your computer and print the best. Wow-talk about a deal! What a sense of freedom.

um except 05.Jan.2004 23:15

loser boy

>Yeah, buy a house. If you are not owning the place you live in, or working towards that
>condition, you're a fool. I bought a house 12 years ago and my current monthly payments are
>under $400/month for an 1800 sq foot 4 bedroom house. Just a few blocks from the Clinton St
>theater, Aladdin Theater, etc.
>The "Revolution", whatever that is, is not going to happen in your lifetime. The appreciation of
>real estate is.

"The appreciation of real estate" is just another way of describing the ever-decreasing affordability of housing for non-owners and aspiring owners. This is a zero-sum game. More dollars-per-square-foot for you means fewer square-feet-per-dollar for the rest of us. Your inflated property values are built on other people's desperation and fear. Congratulations on making it onto the winning team.

whoa there 06.Jan.2004 00:10


Digital cameras are kindur expensive. If you're looking for a cheap hobby, try painting or drawing. Get some chalk. Make a zine. etc etc. And, if your going to shell out the bux for a digicam, why not shell out a few hundred more and get a cheap videocam? A decent one that will serial link to your pc so you can capture stills,which are the same as digicam shots, will run you about $250, a decent digicam will run you about $100.... And video cameras are more fun! But, nothing can beat the joy one gets from giving birth to a zine, and you can do that even if you don't have a uterus or much/any money.

If you look around at fliers, and talk to people in the activist scene, you can usually find a pretty cheap room to let. The last communal house I stayed in was $150/month for my own cozy little room, and I even got to run an ethernet cable from the house's server in there so I had DSL speed access! With six of us splitting the bill, I had to pay like $10/month. Also, ditch your landline and get a cellphone. They are just about the same price as a landline nowadays, and you can keep the phone with you wherever you go, which means that if you're looking for work, you can always be reached. Dumpster diving is a great idea, and there are also places all over town that will let you get free food, like PAC up on NE Halsey. It's an Adventist church on like NE 110th and Halsey that let's you come in with a shopping cart and get good vegetarian food. Check it out. There's also a place on SE Hawthorne, I think it's called FISH, that gives out free food. Pick up a copy of Street Roots from one of the vendors around and you will find a whole lot of free food resources. Also, if you're having health problems, you can go to Outside In. They offer free/cheap medical services to poor people. Clothing can be had for cheap at Value Village, a local chain of thrift stores that does 99 cent sales every Tuesday. Everything with a certain color tag will be 99 cents! I got a nice trenchcoat for 99 cents one time, and a thick wool coat for the same price. Music/software can be free if you have a filesharing prog like Kazaa or Bittorrent. Bicycles are cheap at coops like CityBikes over on SE 10th and Ankeny or that place up on NE Alberta, I think it's called Community Cycling Center. And rubbers are free at clubs all over the place, so no need to worry about your love life.

I guess that's about all I can think of right now.

Cameras 06.Jan.2004 00:21


Well, hell, why not stop with the digital camera or video camera and go for a full PC editiing system.

While you're at it, be sure to keep on the food stamps. Because lord knows you deserve to be on welfare when you're buying expensive toys instead of food and shelter.

a few money-saving ideas 06.Jan.2004 00:30

tight-wad and proud

Taking on a 30-year mortgage, with today's economy the way it is, is probably the worst advice anyone could give. Why become a bank slave? All of the home repairs, utility bills, insurance, general maintenance, property taxes, on top of your mortgage payments are your responsibility. I agree with those who say share a place and pay cheap rent. Then all the money you save, you could probably pay for a cheap home in full, ditch the money-grubbing banks *and* take in a housemate or two to divide up the living expenses, chores, and the home improvements, & taxes. The further away you move from the big city, the more affordable the homes and property taxes. You can buy directly from owners and skip all the middlepeople. Some of the houses and fixer-uppers are unbelievably cheap. Go to realtor.com and look up home prices by city and state and/or zip code (for all 50 states) and see what I mean.

Other advice:

- ditch materialistic friends

- stay out of bars & clubs. It's much cheaper to call up some friends, get some 40 oz beers and put on some good music or make your own music.

- visit yard/garage/moving sales, especially moving sales. Also read the signs in front of the churches you pass by--they have the best rummage sales. You can get all of your furniture, your entire wardrobe, books, tapes, cds, appliances, etc. for next to nothing or free.

- The more you have to go out for something, the more money you will spend and the more time and energy you will spend that can be better spent doing something else. So buy in bulk the things you'll have to consume every day, like toiletries & dry foods like grains and beans, which I keep in airtight (yard sale) storage jars. It seems like a hassle and expensive when you buy like this but I only do this a couple of times per year tops and it keeps me out of stores. This way, the only things I shop for the rest of the year are a few fresh fruits and vegetables from farmers markets.

- Start growing stuff you like. I don't even have a yard and I grow the seasonings that I use often, like rosemary, sage and basil. All 3 are hearty plants and can stay alive all year long as long as they get plenty of sunlight. Sprouting is good for those who have neither patience nor a green thumb, like myself. Hardware/home improvement stores sell very inexpensive seeds for fruits, veggies, and herbs.

- Freeze stuff. You can freeze just about any fruit or vegetable and it lasts for months. I bag and freeze freshly ground garlic and basil every year and it still tastes good after a year.

- learn how to fix stuff and get to know people who are good at repairing things. Small hardware stores can offer valuable advice and assistance (big chain store staff don't know shit half the time). There are also plenty of do-it-yourself websites you can google.

- It's cheaper to be a vegan than a meat & dairy eater. You can keep food stored even if your refrigerator breaks down or electricity gets shut off and grow your own food if you run out of money.

You are right, Photoman! 06.Jan.2004 00:41

Aunt Sam

Dude, has a responsibilty to be a work slave for corporations and George. Do you know we are paying over a billion dollars a day with money we don't have, as of yet, to help liberate ungrateful brown people in the middle east? Now why are sitting on your ass? Send your resume into Bechtel asap! And do not ever, have fun, unless you are told to. If you are on food stamps, you should be miserable, and have a job at walmart, like most people on welfare do! How dare you think about buying a camera? You don't want to see this economy tank because then people like cabber grrl would be shit out rent-ing-to you, because you are a fool, according to her and citigroup! How about Chase? Ever heard of a little thing called the world bank? or the IMF?

As for solutions for living cheap, there are free activities listed in your phonebook. Write them on a wall calendar so you don't forget. I love to hike in Forest Park, all season are beautiful, but during the muddy ones wear boots.

If you have a kitchen space to cook in, have frequent potlucks with friends, make tea instead of drinking soda. Living in Portland and being poor is very hard but it is far less hard than other cities.

For instance you could borrow a mushroom guide from the library and learn to identify mushrooms, you can bird watch, Portland has the most parks in any city, you could try and go to every single one this year. learn your native plants and start collecting seed and reseeding empty lots with Native plants. there are so many groups taht need an extra hand. Laughing Horse is a great place to volunteer and read books.

Clamydia 06.Jan.2004 00:54

By Jimminy

Digicams are a bit more versatile than digi-videocams. You can take very high resolution still-shots (up to 5 MPixels) AND take video as well even though youll need a memory card to make the video last longer. And best of all the digi-cam is usually much smaller which has great advantages. I keep one hidden in my coat pocket at all times. The digi-SLR cameras though are pretty bulky. The digicam is cheaper than the the videocam too. And a versatile camera like a digicam is a great way to get images to paint from.

Oh, you were asking about paying rent and not where to party.... 06.Jan.2004 02:00

Aunt Sam

These places are pretty bad but they are great for emergency money.

1. Donate plasma at a plasma bank. You can find a location on the back of the ww.

2. labor ready is a temp place. You get paid the same day you work, at the end of the day. It's "legit" so you pay taxes but your guaranteed to get paid if you get sent out. There are tons of weekly temp services that you can look into as well. These places are pretty hard hit but it's always worth it to turn a resume in.

3. The seventh day adventist church will help you with your rent but only if you have an eviction notice. It is the same for the rest of your bills. You can get free buss tickets from the welfare office to look for work.

4. The place on Halsey also gives vochers to their thrift shop for clothes, dishes, and furniture. You have to prove it and all. Their food choices are prime and a lot of it is stuff you would pay a small fortune at Trader Joes for. They also have health care services. T alk to them about it. Remember to bring and ID, your bills, and rental agreement. You have to have your ID, period.

5. The community cycling shop offers bikes to those who need transportation to and from work. I do not know the details. Look into it. But they are supposed to be free or for a small fee.

I'll post more ideas if I can think of more.

Question 06.Jan.2004 05:51


WOW! I sure am glad I came upon this thread. You people have no idea how uplifting your advice is. I don't even live in Portaland, but in Chi-town, and am broke and in debt up to my ears - due to job loss several yars ago and subsequent illness and hospitalizations (no med insurance at the time). Housing is no longer a problem for me, but money is always an issue - I have many animals (all found) - I also cannot live with myself unless I contribute some $ to animal rights groups. Does anyone know how much plasma banks pay? Thank you all, you really made me feel less depressed about being poor. G-d bless!

labor ready? 06.Jan.2004 06:52

just say no way

Lots of great advice here. Except, if you care about workers' rights, PLEASE don't go to labor ready. Temp agencies are a parasitic scam on the worker. They rake in huge profits on the backs of unskilled, low wage workers. Employers pay them around $15-$20 an hour, of which the worker usually gets less than half. And why do employers do it? Because it's a way to avoid both having to pay for health benefits and having to deal with union workers.

PLEASE avoid temp agencies if you can. You deserve better, and so do the rest of us. As long as scab factories like this exist, job security doesn't exist for any of us.

More ideas 06.Jan.2004 08:53


In a similar vein to donating plasma, you could be a human subject in a medical research facility. Am not from Portland, but this thread was linked from the main IMC so even if such facilities don't exist in Portland, there should be many a reader from other areas that have them. Go for a relatively safe research such as final stage for a drug that shouldn't wreck you, such as a generic equivalent of Tylenol type drugs or antacids. The ones I've been at pay hundreds of $ per study. The studies that draw blood require months between studies to regain your blood supply.

You can make money and help the environment by selling aluminum cans. Intelligent states have deposit laws, sometimes for other materials such as plastic. I know an Oregon resident who's made over $10000 over the years selling deposit containers at 5 cents each. Most cans are given to him by friends and neighbors, and he collects many others while walking at parks and beaches. If you know an area already has cans collected by someone less fortunate, such as a homeless person, obviously you shouldn't "steal" from that person's primary source of income. If you have friends who drink a lot of beer or soda, suggest they give the cans to you. If you have a job, raid trash recepticles because most people in workplaces throw away recyclable materials. If you want to avoid creating a scene and getting fired, stay late and rescue the cans before the janitors empty the trash.

"poor" can save money by NOT donating to "animal rights" groups. Many "animal rights" groups such as PETA and HSUS trick well-meaning people into thinking their donations go to animals in shelters or to fight against animal abuse in research facilities. In reality, PETA and HSUS spend a lot of the money trying to outlaw hunting and fishing. A lot of poor people live off the land via responsible hunting and fishing. Anglers and hunters are good for animals because they tend to vote for pro-environmental legislation. If you donate to an animal charity, make sure the money is actually going to help the animals.

To save energy bills, do NOT use air conditioning. Keep the heat as low as possible (60 degrees miminum is required in the apartment leases I've had to prevent pipe freezing, but if the temperature is above freezing, obviously you can go lower). While writing this, I'm wearing three layers, a warm hat, and wool socks to keep warm in a 60 degree room. Don't waste electricity. Don't waste water.

thanks 06.Jan.2004 11:42

portland (the one who first posted)

Wow! Great advise. This is the kind of stuff that we should be talking about on Indymedia more often.

I'm pretty good about the minimum expenses, though i do spurge a little here and there. I've been doing the "Your Money or Your Life" progam. Really good- I recommend it to everyone.

I'd like to add to my question and see what ideas people have about finding employment and livlihood that is ethical, meaningful, and contributes to the movement.

also 06.Jan.2004 12:48


Keeping your indoor heat at a maximum of 60 - 65 helps keep you healthy. One of the contributing factors to people getting sick is having to constantly undergo extreme shifts in temperature. If you are blasting the heat in your house so that it's constantly like 80 degrees, then your body reacts accordingly. Then, when you go out in the freezing cold, your body has been tricked into acting as though it is hot, and is unprepared for the bitter cold. You've got sweat in your armpits, slight moisture from sweat all over your body, etc. The point is that your body cannot effectlively regulate it's temperature if it is constantly going from summertime to dead winter and back. Bad temperature regulation=not so efficient immune system response=you have a higher chance of getting ill.

globalvolunteers.org 06.Jan.2004 12:57



get out of the little Portland bubble.
Help is needed in that world out there if
you are just idling here.

re labor ready 06.Jan.2004 12:59


While I agree that temp agencies are parasitic scum, I have to take issue with your figures. A few years ago, I had a bunch of shit in a UHaul truck that I needed to get out of the truck because I had to work the next day. I couldn't get any of my friends to help me, and I couldn't do it on time myself, so as a last resort I called up Labor Ready and inquired as to the cost of getting someone out there to help me move my shit. They quoted me $8 an hour or so. Since minimum wage is $6.75, that is obviously not half of what I'm paying. It still sucks that these temp agencies leech off of people who need work, and that there is no alternative for people who need temp labor.
What I'd love to see would be some start up temp agency that is actually a workers collective, where the shop is run by the workers, and when they hire out, they charge the worker a small percentage of what they earn as part of a due. The due for a days work would be like the prorated version of a monthly due, only it would be on a sliding scale so that less skilled workers would not have to pay as much as more skilled workers. I would ultimately like to see something a lot more revolutionary than this of course, like a complete revamping of our entire societal structure starting with sending all the politicians to Iraq (If they want to help people over there so bad, let them go over there and do it themselves), but this would be a start.

eat lower on the food chain 06.Jan.2004 14:22

also poor in portland

I am really glad to see so many people contributing to this + lots of good ideas!

another idea to save $$$ is to eat lower on the food chain.

it's more healthy

With diets like Atkins it is easy eat more meat. but the best way is to have 1/3 veggies, 1/3 grains (carbs), 1/3 some kind of protein. It takes allot of work to digest lots of protein if what you really need is just energy carbohydrates, and it can make you lethargic. ride your bike instead of driving a car, the exercise will take care of those grains your substituting for meat. (i still keep insurance on my car, but bus fare works out to be the same as gas so i'd rather put my bike on the the MAX then be stuck in traffic. plus you can read while you travel.) Plus less meat means less doctor bills later on with lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

it helps other poor people here in the US

buying bulk food and local organic veggies instead of meat is also a way we can vote with our dollar to create rural jobs that are sustainable, decent work and decent paying, rather then supporting big agri-business and slaughter houses, full of desperate immigrants who don't make minimum wage.

less meat = less water + protects indigenous eco systems in the South

we have over 6,339,384,914 people in this world and most of them don't live like we do. they are trying to however though industrializing, and eating higher on the food chain. both of these require allot of water. when there isn't enough to grow stuff it's imported, this puts pressure on world food markets, and raises the prices on stables. if there is a drought in a poor area, and the world food prices are high people starve. a cow eats about 10 times it's weight in grain. cows are made bigger by feeding them more protein typically by dead cows or sheep(how mad cow spreads), alfalfa, or soya. with increasing prices, it puts real pressure on other poor communities in forested areas to cut it down to grow soy beans for westerner's meat consumption. This permanently causes species loss, as well as loss of a carbon sink, in our warming world.

one way to do it

I still eat meat, but I consciously eat less. i try not eating meat when others aren't, and on my own eating beans, chicken, fish, ham, or turkey instead of cow. other things to think about:
-Tuna contains allot of Mercury, which stays in your body and causes nerve damage.

-Also coal and other industry have air emission with allot of heavy metals which end up in the rivers. fresh water salmon now can be dangerous depending on the source... so eat in moderation. Though fishing is fun and a great way to save on grocery bills.

-watch prices on meat and buy whole bunch and freeze it.

-or, it's amazing how many ways there are to prepare beans and rice...

Join the Army 06.Jan.2004 14:44

SGT Hasbeen

Three square meals a day, plenty of excersise, all the Hummers you can drive, and a chance to shoot people what more could you want.

I was tired clabber grrl 06.Jan.2004 15:48

Aunt Sam

I am sorry if I vented on you, clabber grrl, I was tired. You are right to encourage buying property. When you do you can switch it over to green, create community spaces, ect. You, however, are very lucky. Not all of us can afford to, qualify for, or are able to make a committment to buying a house at this time. This does not make them fools, just different. I hope you will accept my apology. You are absolutely right.

More ideas.

1. learn a trade like beading, knitting, sewing, etc. If you purchase a sewing machine you can dumpster dive clothing from thrift shops to alter. Keep them for the buttons, zippers, what ever is usable. There are boutiques on Alberta that sell original deisgner clothing. You can make purses, quilts, jewelry etc for extra cash. A lot of boutiques are willing to accept stuff on a you'll get paid once it sells basis.

2. Learning how to grow mushrooms can be very hard and take a long time. But once you get it down it can be worth the cash invested.

3. Harvest from nature. There are tons of empty lots full of Chamomile and other natural growing weeds that are edible. Learn to harvest dandelion leaves and other fresh greens from nature and not the store.

4. as I said temp agencies are bad so don't rely on them. try to create your own company. do yardwork, babysitting, canning, etc.

5. People love to buy valentines day candles. If you start making them now you can advertise them on the net, place them in boutiques etc.

6. Learn to make salves and balms. The most popular beginner balms would be lip balm. With natures abundances you can probably get the fragrance for free.

7. If you eat meat consider eating fresh road kill. There are many people who stretch their budget this way. It is probably healthier than conagra.

8. Even with a simple needle and thread you can alter thrown away clothing into sellsble art.

This is all I have for now. If I come up with more I will post them later.

Heat the house without turning on a heater 06.Jan.2004 16:21

Aunt Sam

Bake fresh bread instead of buying it, make soups from scratch. A great way to maximize your vegetables is instead of composting less than perfect vegetables or stalks boil tehm for soup, strain the vegetables out once the vitamins have leached into the water. Then use teh vegetable base for regular dishes, casseroles, gravies, or soups. With food cooking on the stove or in the overn, the house smells warm and inviting. If you have a fireplace cook or potbeelied stove use it to cook your soups. It works a lot like a crockpot and saves money.

Research project: SQUATS. Legal, historical, etc.

Could we have a permanent link to this thread? 06.Jan.2004 18:35

George Bender

Lots of good ideas here. I learned some things. Could we have a permanent link to this on the home page -- How to live cheap in Portland -- so people who need to can always find this?


On sharing houses: I've tried it four times. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Depends on the people, how well they get along, how much they agree on how to live -- noise, clean kitchen and bathroom, etc. It's very easy for people to get on each other's nerves. It didn't work out the last time I tried it so I would be very reluctant to try it again. It does have the advantage that some of your social life is built-in. The disadvantage, besides conflicts, is that you have to TALK to them.

I sold plasma twice a week when I was a lot younger to pay my rent, $100 a month. It left big scars on the inside of my elbows where the needles went in. One less place where they can draw blood when you need medical treatment later in life.

More 06.Jan.2004 18:59

Aunt Sam

1. focus groups- portland does a lot of focus groups and their are agencies just set up for them. Look for them in the phone book or ask around. Often all they want is to present data and get feed back. You can get paid hundreds of dollars for a weekend work. Focus group discdriminate on age, gender, race and all basic job criteria in order to target segements of the population in order to sell faulty products, win tobacco lawsuits, what not. Just lie. Lie as much as possible. Tell them what they want to hear. Sabotage as much as possible as sweetly as possible. They do not tell you who is hosting the focus group and what the focus is.

2. Never attend a full priced movie. Go to the cheap theaters. there are independent theaters like the Laurelhurst (right around the corner from the plasma clinic) which have good cheap movies.

3. Tell everyone you know that you are poor. When ever you pay for stuff, tell them you are poor. One of the places I shop at in an emergency throws food in for free half the time. That is the benefit of supporting a family owned corner store. I also keep going back, it's a cool relationship. Most of the people you are buying from are also poor and can relate.

4. Always smile at people. If you smile when you say your poor it takes the sting off. A smile makes you rich inside and makes others feel rich in your presence. It sounds cheesy. It's true. I like to travel and universally people like to help people who are traveling and smiling.

5. Don't spange for change with a dog. It annoys everyone. It even annoys yourself.

6. When you have money take a homeless person out to eat, spend time with them, listen to them, and then give them a few bucks afterwards. It will be something they remember for years. I have been on both sides of teh ticket.

7. When you have leftovers from a meal, get a to go box and set it on top of the trash can, or by the side of the trashcan in high traffic homeless areas. This gives the homeless who scrounge for food some dignity.

Extra ideas 06.Jan.2004 19:04


I bought a used scooter last year which costs $50 a year to insure. Now I hardly ever use a bus. I've cycled all my life, but it's nice to have that scooter on winter days.

The library has a great selection of videos and DVDs. But you have to do some research and place holds on popular items. The library will also get any book for you that you want. Even if it is not available in the Multnomah system, they will get the book for you through the "Inter-Library" loan system. Works great for that rare art or political book.

Teaching English Abroad (Plan in progress) 06.Jan.2004 22:17


Okay so I got a couple of months left in my one year stint of teaching English, my plan is to come back to Portland not spend a dime (if I can) repaying student loans and instead dedicate my saved money to sustaining a good life as long as possible back in P-Town.

Japan/Korea/Taiwan are the best places to go. It is easy to get a job and you don't need a college degree especially if you are under 30. Lie your ass off if you need to to get there.

Dangers in Japan: your money can disappear as fast as you make it very very easily, this country is designed for this even more then America. If you are an alcoholic you will likely drink half your money or more away. So simply put act like a monk for your trip, don't spend money on anything extra, or give yourself a very strict allowance weekly.

Also I suggest not staying for longer then a year if your plan is to come back to P-town, longer and you will be seduced, especially if you are a man. Plus longer and all that stuff of yours you left with friends will disappear.

ONE YEAR no longer. Get out of America, earn loads of cash, come back and pump up the good world in P-town. I've been fantasising about all the things I didn't do because of being a bundle of stress at worrying the basic rent/utility bill every damn month.

Anyway Dahlia better fucking still be making music when I get back or I'm going to go fu*king ballistic.


Poverty and house purchase 07.Jan.2004 10:09


If you are thinking of buying a house, and you arent not loaded, you need to make it a goal and a plan. You are either going to need a down payment (hard to save on a ow wage), a zero down loan (really two loans one for 80% and one for 20%. The second loan is at a pretty high interest rate, so youd better have more money every month. Who ever is going to loan you money (not a bank or a credit union, because they only loan money to people with secure jobs and lots of money) will want two years income tax returns, proof of income and your credit report. My partner and I had a couple pretty good year, and we need our own space for various reasons (my child, our pets, some bad expierences), so when I got sick of handing my money over to a slum lord (slumperson?) I went after the zeo down loan. With an inome of 30,000$ per year I qualified for 140,000$ loan. Currently, 140,000 in Portland will buy you:
A small house in SE past 60th
A fixer in N PDX
Outer SE property (past 120th) or felony flats. (Foster-Powell)

The good:
You can right off the interest and property taxes from your fedeal taxes. This is a big plus if your self employed (cause they screw you if you are self employed). My own exp. on this matter is that I pay 2000$ extra in mortgage over rent annualy (although I rented in a more trendy neighborhood then I bought) but I can deduct 13,000$/year from my taxes.

The property is yours! No more asking to plant gadens, change paint colors or get rid of a stove you hate. Rip up the carpets, redo the floors! When you rent, your labor supports some one else. Mostly these people are interested primarily in seperating you from as much of your money as possible while spending as little of that money on the house as possible. This means they dont care if the heating is efficent, the windows sealed etc. My utilities are 500$/year lower owning because my new house was owned by some one who lived here and thus its mre efficent. When you rent, you are paying the interst on the morgatge and taxes, yet the landlord gets the deduction!

Forced savings. Every month you have to pay some money to your principal. This is your money. When you sell the house you get it back.

The bad:
You own it. No landlord to call when the pipes freeze or the stove breaks (always when your broke).

The monthly nut. It costs more month to month. Plus you need insurance, and a home warranty is good (especially the first year).

I can only say from my own expiernce, but unless your loaded you are not going to buy in Clinton, Hawthorne or Belmont, or in the "TRENDY" part of Albera ("Arts"). You are going to have to move to a less cool-neighborhoood. Their are many reasons that a neighborhood isnt as "trendy", some border industrial districts, highways and the like. Some like Foster-Powell have pretty high crime rates and traffic problems brought about by PDOTs desire to turn Foster St into a Freeway (which has fatal results, as we saw yesterday). You have to go where you are comfortable, and where the problems are ones you can deal with. Other neighborhoods just arent "cool" I live in South Tabor, which is simply a little suburban for some tastes. But the houses are good, the neigbors nice.

On the whole I would say that it been great to own a house, but its a huge project and a goal. Clamidias house for 400$/month is history here in PDX, so dont go looking for it. But realze that renting means your paying someone, and all that rent money is lost. When you buy, you save some and right the rest off your taxes. I also feel that asentee ownership of property is morally wrong in general (although I have had some great dealings with some of my landlords/ladies). And I dont want to support it anymore. But it takes money, and you gotta make it (and not spend it elsewhere) to buy.

This leads me to money and the making of it. Maybe it is my Northeastern protestant upbringing, but I have always believed that if you need money, there is no such thing as a bad job. If you need to eat, take any job you can get. Dont stop looking for a better job, dont be worried about leaving the job you have the scond you get a better offer (if they are paying you a shit wage, what can they expect?) Washing dishes can be a great desperation job, because dishwashers are always quitting, so they are easy to get, resturants usually feed you at least your shift meal ( I have had employers who knew I was broke would send me home with food) so you wont starve till that first paycheck comes.

The way to get ahead is, WHILE working at your shit job scrubbing toiles or washing dishes, think about what you are good at and figure out how to sell it. Are you super organized? Start a businss helping people to organize. Super fastidious? Start a house cleaning company. Give good massages? Go to massage school. You get the idea. Youll find that a job you hate will motivate you to get it together.

Sources 07.Jan.2004 10:34


Found this website  http://www.thefrugallife.com/

There is a forum where people share ideas/solutions. Gotta weed through, but it seems helpful.

About bikes 07.Jan.2004 10:47

Chris chris_hoogendijk@mail.com

Besides City Bikes, I have found several good deals at Goodwill in both Hillsboro and Sellwood. My project is to build an electric recumbent and to start a worker-owned enterprise manufacturing them.

An idea I just flashed on is to create a bike trailer using an aluminum frame that would be big enough to sleep in while parked in a safe place. Perhaps it could be foldable and have a plastic cover.

Wherever you live, be sure to vote.

Never get a home loan w/out steady income 08.Jan.2004 11:28

tight-wad and proud

If you're not in the prime lending market (affluent, steady employment, pay all bills on time), you can never qualify for a loan at an affordable interest rate. If you're poor or have had money problems in the past, you are considered to be in the "subprime" market, which means you can only qualify for loans from mortgage companies and loan sharks.

Mortgage companies *legally* charge astronomical interest rates using the excuse that they are taking a greater risk lending you money because you're poor (subprime) and may not pay your bill on time or at all. What ends up happening to low-income people who take mortgage company loans is that they'll only be able to afford to pay the minimum amount each month so they'll never pay the principle -- only the interest -- for the rest of their lives if they don't end up foreclosing and losing their home altogether.


Don't buy into the American Dream. Lenders and real estate brokers try to sell young people on the idea that you must have a "starter" home, and that owning a home equals independence or freedom. You don't actually "own" anything until you pay off the loan. Until then, the lender really owns your house. Also, if you buy an affordable home in the city it will most likely be located in a low-income area and it will be harder to find someone who will want to buy it should you decide to sell and move somewhere else. If nobody buys your home, you're stuck with it and the lender. Some of these homes have been on the market for years because nobody wants to purchase them.

The best thing to do while you're young is rent as cheaply as possible. You have the freedom to choose where and with whom you want to live as long as you're not tied down to a mortgage. Who cares whether or not you can paint a room or change a stove. What matters is keeping a roof over your head. When you're older or near retirement age and can finally afford to purchase a home and leave the big city, you can avoid brokers and pay for the home in cash in full, then you can do anything you want with your home. There are houses out in rural areas that cost far less than $100,000.

There is a myth floating around that having a mortgage and writing off your property taxes is a good deal. It's just a ploy to keep people tied to lenders. If you buy a cheap home in an area where the property taxes are low anyway, why bother? In order to qualify for this so-called tax break, you'll have to keep a mortgage, so homeowners keep refinancing and refinancing just keep qualifying. You can always take in a renter and charge them for the amount of your property taxes.

money 08.Jan.2004 22:34


Savings accounts are a joke. Whenever I managed to save a tiny bit, the interest rates that the bank pays are much lower than the inflation rates. It seems that people who have savings accts end up losing money. I am not investor-savy, and don't have enough money/knowledge for the stock market . What is the best way to invest the little you have so that you don't end up losing?

Savings dilemma 09.Jan.2004 10:46

tight-wad and proud

This is a big problem. Savings accounts are about as useful as cutting open a mattress and stuffing your money into it. CDs aren't much better than savings accounts. If you play the stock market you *may" gain more but it's about as risky as going to a casino, plus you may end up investing in some pretty evil corporations. Big investment firms are notorious for committing fraud and favoring wealthier investors over other mutual fund investors.

If you have a regular job, some employers have "profit sharing" and will match the percentage of your income that you agree to set aside out of your paycheck in a 401K.

I also heard about something called index funds. You may want to look into it  http://www.indexfunds.com/.

living in portland 11.Jan.2004 14:20

"poor" and at peace

rent in portland is expensive, which is surely a large part of why so many people here share housing. this can be good or bad, of course, depending on the people involved. if you do this, remember, you've gotta have frank, specific conversations before you commit to a living situation (will you share groceries? what does "clean" mean to you? houseguests? how often? do you want to spend alot of time together, or just make sure the bills get paid on time?etc).

i have managed my whole 7 years in portland living alone, because living alone is worth it to me, so i spend very little to accomodate that. school loans helped me manage for a while, but those aren't coming in any more. however:

i don't drive - sold my car in 1988 and have bussed it ever since. kind of like the "your money or your life" idea of really considering how you spend your money, this has helped me to really consider how i spend my time. where do i really "have" to go? i saw lots of good resources on biking from other posters, here, too. if you need to move something that you can't transport by bus or bike, ask people who have a car to help. i don't ask often, and so people never begrudge me a hand. that car-sharing thing where you pay for usage - by the hour?- is an idea, too.

i quit my necessary part-time job in retail selling clothes. boring, soul-numbing, had few shared values with the people i was spending my time with, and the clothing discount didn't matter to me. i work in a bookstore now, where my employee discount is worth something to me. a job is a job, yes, but discounts and benefits are important, as is the opportunity to learn, to "network" or community-build, and definitely, to like what you're doing.

you can save so much money on food. comparison shop and use coupons. buy on sale, in bulk, fresh instead of prepared. buy staples that you can use in a variety of recipes, rather than things that you can only prepare one way. make enough to freeze. garden if you can. also, you can save alot, and have fun, having a dinner party with friends. you'd be surprised how many people you can actually feed on $10 or $20. share the costs of a nice dinner, cook together, listen to some music. my old friends and i used to do this most nights. we are now spread out across the world, but we built lasting friendship in sharing that time together.

if your living situation allows: i had pge average my usage to one flat monthly rate. no matter how many sweaters you wear or windows you open, your bills can vary widely over the course of the year. i got hit with some big surprises, but now it is easier for me to budget if i know exactly how much i will pay each month. they also have a plan where you pay lower bills if you use your electricity mostly in off-peak (evening / night-time hours). i don't have long-distance on my phone; there are lots of options to keep phone bills down these days.

health care can be tough. if you don't qualify for OHP, check out Wallace Medical Concern. you can also get referrals from the hospitals for free screenings and clinics, etc. (i have gotten free mammogram and ultrasound, and podiatry services; doctors in fields from optometry to audiology to dermatology donate their time for these things, and foundations also sponser events, eg. the breast cancer foundation for screenings, etc). unfortunately, these events aren't always scheduled when you need them, but keep your ears open.

there are lots of free things to do around town. instead of the art museum, check out local galleries. check the weekly listings for free music performances at the libraries, schools, churches and coffee houses around town. go to free lectures and readings. there are alot of interesting activities that are sliding scale / free will offering, too. hang out with other people who want to live frugally and simply.

use your library - you can check out videos and music. and use your computer; again, free access at the library.

check the barter boards in your store, coffee house, and on craig's list. i can't say enough about craig's list. barter, barter, barter! be creative about what you can do. house sit? dog walk? home repair? gardening for someone? photography? computer work? teach someone swahili? if you feel stumped, sit down and make yourself write a list of 20 things you know how to do. you'll be surprised at how many skills and talents you have - and who will have need for these. exchange for goods or services. also, on craig's list you will see listings for really cheap and even free stuff, jobs, etc.

i have done the market research thing, too. they sometimes run ads, but try calling the larger firms. they file your demographic info, and will call you if you fit the profile they want to use for a particular focus group. and, they will often give you a fee if you refer to them someone else they use for a study.

remember that there is no shame in not having lots of money to spend. i don't whine or cry poor (too much, anyway), but i am not ashamed to say to people that my budget is tight or that soemthing is more than i can afford. i have gotten discounted bodywork, a free printer and computer keyboard, textbook loans from professors, a free plane ticket, and even the offer of free shared housing for a year...network. this can happen naturally and constructively through things like bartering and volunteering your time.

last but not least, don't deny yourself treats once in a while. i really like movies and eating out, so i still go see a matinee once in a while, or splurge with lunch in a nice restaurant or a place that has a good early bird / happy hour food menu. my experience is that when you stress out too much over money, and think and live in terms of want instead of abundance, you block abundance from coming into your life. cheese-y? okay. but i really think it's true.

good luck!

Don't Forget Freecycle.org 29.Jan.2004 06:45

Bohemian Mom

I have found http://www.freecycle.org very helpful Community Action in Beaverton has helped me out by paying my rent, my heat, and giving me bus tickets Care to Share has helped me with my rent and electricity as well

Plasma 10.Sep.2004 14:07

Too much blood marlow@kidsloveguns.com

I recently moved to Portland from Utah. While living in Utah, I donated plasma twice a week. Not because I had the impending doom of rent or bills, but because I like cigarettes and soda pop. I though for sure that once I got to Portland I'd be able to find a Plasma Center no problem. I was wrong :(. Ive searched the phone book and online as well and the closest I've come is the Red Cross, which won't pay me for my vital fluids. Does anyone out there know of a center? And if so, a phone number would be helpful. I'd like to know their stance on tattoos and piercings.

plasma donation 23.Nov.2005 09:52


ZLB Plasma Svc - 16225 NE Glisan St, Portland, 97230 - (503) 251-8822
they pay between $20-25 per plasma donation and allow up to 2 donations a week.
there are occasion bonus incentives also.
If you have never donated with them before there is a screening process that takes about 3 hrs, otherwise a normal donation process takes about 1 1/2 - 2 hrs.
You can watch videos while reclining in a comfortable seat and its time you can use to read the news or a book while they are collecting the fluid.

Ive also heard recently that there is a new donation site in Hillsboro, OR.
but have never been there and don't know the name for looking it up.

Very Thankful 23.May.2007 17:43

The Becca-nator!

I just wanted to thank everyone that participates in this website for giving some GREAT money saving tips. I'm a college student who has realized that I need to spend my money more wisely. This resource has really been helping me!

To save money on food, I spent money on groceries instead of fast food. This can seem more expensive, because you are spending much more money upfront than you would for one Value meal. But we all know, the return on our dollar is much higher for homemade foods than restuarant foods.

I also started going to discount groceries stores. Ask around. You might be surprised what cheap retailers are out there. Today I spent $56 on a CARTLOAD of stuff that might have cost anywhere from $80-$100 at a chain grocery store. But you really have to look around on this one. Some of the discount grocery stores have the same fresh fruits and vegetables that more expensive retails grocers carry. But others do not carry very fresh items. It might be trial and error to find one that you like.

Also, the type of food you buy can make or break your budget. Avoid the pre-packaged meals. I realized that I was spending a very large portion of my money on Frozen dinners. Yes-they are easy, but not necessarily very cost effective. Also, cooking your own food is healthier (sodium, mainly). Purchase lots of basic items that you could be creative with in your own kitchen. For example: bread, pastas, potatoes, rice and ramen noodles are very cheap and you can make COUNTLESS recipes with them. They are the staple of a well-balanced meal and the staple of a well-stocked kitchen.

I love to thrift shop. There is a thrift shop down the street from my apartment. They will actually PAY YOU MONEY to bring in some decent-condition items you want to get rid of. I took in some pants I was going to get rid of anyway. He gave me $3 for them. I don't know about other places, but I received cash. Other places might only offer a store credit. They won't always take everything you bring in. Of course, they will only take items they think will sell well in their store. But this is a great way to make some extra money. You get rid of your junk, make a little money, and then can donate the rest to Goodwill.

I love coffee. Upon scaling back my budget, I found that I was visiting the local college cofee shop about 3 times a day. Since I only drink regular coffee with sweetener and cream, I realized I could brew my own pot in the morning, prepare it the way I drink it, and put it in a thermos. I bought this well-insulated thermos for about $11. The amount I was spending on coffee everyday.

Hair Care. I also enjoy changing my hair color frequently and experimenting. I used to go to a professional, but I could not afford it unless it was the summer time and I was able to work full-time. So I spend about $10 a box on hair dye (and I have long hair so I need two) and save about $60 every two months. Eventually, I hope to be able to go back to my hairstylist because she is incredible with hair (plus, many professionals use higher quality products). But this is a temporary way for me to save money.

Once again, thank you all who have contributed ideas!